Secret societies and groups have likely been in existence in some form since the beginning of civilized society. They are rumored to possess mysterious power and influence of the world and it’s governing bodies. While the Internet makes it much more difficult to keep the existence of the groups a secret, there still is not much known about what happens behind closed doors. These are some of the groups that have allegedly included well-known and powerful people as members.
FreemasonsThe Freemasons are believed to be the oldest secret society that is still in existence today. The Grand Masonic Lodge was created in 1717 by the joining of 4 smaller groups, but already at that point rumors of the Masons’ existence had already been circulating for at least a century. They are known for their secret handshakes and pass codes used to enter meetings, as well as their bizarre rituals and a hierarchy in which members through as they gain experience and respect within the society. In order to become a mason, you must generally be recommended by a current mason.
The Illuminati were a movement of freethinkers whose followers were given the name Illuminati, but actually called themselves “Perfectibilists”. The group was founded on May 1, 1776 in by Jesuit-taught Adam Weishaupt. Although the Illuminati originally branched off and broke away from, the Freemasons, they have since become a prime focus for conspiracy theorists, many of whom credit Illuminati agendas for every conceivable disaster, mystery, and economic downturn. Issues determining the succession of a new leader as well as government attempts to outlaw the group caused it to collapse entirely in the 1700’s. Although this is little to zero evidence that the group still exists today, they are a very popular subject in conspiracy theories related to operating and managing the main actions of the governments of the world.
The Elders of Zion
In 1920, a Russian document surfaced called the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that was a Jewish plan for world domination. The document was ultimately shown to be a hoax, but the document and newspaper articles about it were collected as a book titled The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem. Adolph Hitler found himself with a copy and appropriated many of its ideas for himself. To this day, anti-Semitic theorists still believe that the document was genuine and that there still exists a plan for Jewish world domination.
The Skull and BonesThe Skull and Bones society is very well known, but their rituals continue to be kept secret. It was founded at Yale University by William H Russell in 1832 and originally called the Eulogian Club, and has boasted many prominent heads of state (including at least three presidents), captains of industry, and heads of covert agencies among its membership. Members meet every Thursday and Sunday of each week in a building they call the “Tomb”.
The Rosicrucians were formed in the early fifteenth century by Christian Rosenkreutz. Between 1607 and 1616, two documents were published anonymously: Fama Fraternitatis RC (The Fame of the Brotherhood of RC) and the Confessio Fraternitatis (The Confession of the Brotherhood of RC). The first document tells the story of a mysterious alchemist who traveled to various parts of the world gathering secret knowledge. The second document tells of a secret brotherhood of alchemists who were preparing to change the political and intellectual face of Europe. This group is believed that have a major influence on later societies such as the Freemasons and the Illuminati.
The Bilderberg group is not a classic secret society in that their existence and even membership is known, but their reach and power are debated. They started in 1954, when some of the world’s most influential people met in a hotel to discuss and plan the coming year’s global agenda. They have continued to meet every year, but the content of their talks has remained a zealously guarded secret.
The Knights Templar
The modern Knights Templar is an off-shoot of Masonry and does not have a direct tie to the original Knights Templar. However, the original was born in the twelfth century, when nine knights took a vow to protect pilgrims traveling through the Holy Land. The organization expanded, and as it did it gained wealth, fame, and power. Ultimately, the society died when the members were tortured and executed. Though rumors abound, there is no compelling evidence that they ever possessed the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, or the blood of Jesus Christ. While today’s group says otherwise, some Masons, non-Masons, and even anti-Masons insist that certain Masonic rites or degrees originally had direct Templar influence.